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The Aggressive Electronic Music of Mental Anguish

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During the Eighties and Nineties, Mental Anguish (aka Chris Phinney) was hyperactive, producing over fifty cassette tape releases of agro electronic music that pushed the boundaries of sanity into the realm of teeth-grinding enjoyment.

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MENTAL ANGUISH: The Tapegerm Mixes (CDR on Harsh Reality Music)

This release from 2001 features 72 minutes of electronic craziness by Mental Anguish presented in various remixes by Tapegerms.

Tapegerms is an internet loop collective, producing experimental music of electronic nature. More data on them can be found here.

"The Tapegerm Mixes" is an in-your-face sonic experience, delivering aggressive and often abrasive melodic electronics tinged with mournful horns and tasty percussion and grinding guitars and an assortment of out-right weirdness. There is no single description that covers the music on this release, as styles and genres hop all over the place--from the attack mode of "Bog Walking at Midnight" to the sultry flow of "Jazz Me Up" to the urgent subterranean cosmology of "Chasm".

Versatility and inventive sensibilities abound on this collection of tracks, sending the listener through myriad strata of enjoyable music that tickles the rhythm sense as it jabs for the eye.

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MENTAL ANGUISH & NOMUZIC: Flamingo Road (CDR on Harsh Reality Music/Audiofile Round Tapes)

This 39 minute CDR is a tasty collaboration between Phinney and Nomuzic (aka Carl Howard), with Richard McCracken providing "true percussion" on a single track.

The music is wholly instrumental, employing an assortment of electronic apparatus to produce quite a haunting and thoroughly melodic journey through strange territory. Drums and E-perc set engagingly quirky rhythms that are pursued by dark drones and eerie pulsations that strive to pierce the sky with their unearthly wailings. A touch of tortured guitar strains cry out as they escape from damnation to assail the listener with impressions of the hidden underworld.

The darkness of this music is far from gloomy or depressing, however. The tuneage is alive with a wariness that empowers the listener with the determination to survive another day in the oppressive real world, affording more than simple escapism with nimble melodies and attractive riffs. The audience's mind is jump-started, stimulated by the aggressive-but-dreamy passages.

While hardly frenzied, the rhythms are not sedate. The gradual pace features just the right dose of agitated elements to propel the compositions, blending conventional percussives with an assortment of odd objects struck in tempo.

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PLANET 0: Set the Controls to Galaxy None (CDR on Harsh Reality Music/Audiofile Round Tapes)

Planet 0 (that's "zero", not "Oh") consists of: Roger Moneymaker (from Swine Bolt 45) on guitars, Robert Hinson (from Viktimized Karcass) on bass, Richard McCracken on percussion, Chris Phinney on electronics, and Carl Howard on even more electronics. This conjunction of indie talent produces 45 minutes of sultry space music.

The guitars growl and grind with astral dedication, resounding from a distance. The drums roll out rhythms in the fashion of live improv jazz, steady but peppered with novel breaks. The bass rumbles like an oncoming thunderstorm. The electronics swarm like alien insects trapped in a flowing aspic of unearthly constitution.

The fusion of these instruments creates a languid voyage through the interstellar void. Gurgling synthesizers unfurl just beyond the view portal of the sonic spacecraft, roiling like turgid nebulas imbued with unconventional animation. The drawling guitar adds fire to these cosmic clouds, while the terse basslines remind the audience of their terrestrial origins, a sort of visceral lifeline to insure that no one gets lost in the interplanetary vacuum. The gestalt relaxes as it invigorates.

This tuneage is a superb example of space jazz, and would be welcome in any lunar station or farflung outpost.

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Interesting music by Mental Anguish can also be found here.

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